Communication Techniques and Channels
What Employees Need to Know
To work effectively and achieve optimum results, a number of communications techniques should be considered and utilized. Which one is used depends on the situation. This section will outline the different methods and when to use them.
The biggest benefit of face-to-face communication is that it's personal and bidirectional. When you interact directly with someone, it’s easier to build rapport and enhance trust. Also, speaking in person, you can pick up on nonverbal cues that would be missed by sending an email. In-person meetings can be formal or informal. Some examples of both:
- All-staff (“big picture”) meeting – Helps employees understand their department’s goals and how their work fits into the big picture. Held annually or semi-annually.
- Department-wide meeting – For unexpected but important messages that have broad impact, use on an as-needed basis. For comprehensive messages such as a “State of the University” address, hold annually.
- Workgroup or staff meeting – For information sharing, updating, assigning tasks. Most effective when held weekly or bi-weekly.
As a formal meeting organizer, you should create an agenda that lets attendees know what topics will be discussed and helps keep the meeting focused.
- Brown-bag gatherings – Typically held during the lunch hour, brown-bag events are casual ways to host a speaker, hold discussions or present information.
- Lunch with the chancellor – Held monthly. They provide faculty and staff a chance to speak with the chancellor directly to ask questions, share concerns or ideas in a group setting.
- Town hall meetings – Held three times during the year (once each semester and once during the summer). Faculty and staff are invited to submit questions in advance or ask them in person of the chancellor, who is occasionally joined by members of her leadership team.
Common Communication Channels
Email can be effective because it’s immediate, can reach a mass audience fairly quickly and provides information in writing. It can have drawbacks, as well. Too many emails and messages can be perceived as overkill and, thus, may be ignored. Also, the tone of an email may be misconstrued by the person reading it or technology glitches may prevent the email from reaching its intended audience.
As with all communications, it is important to be intentional and strategic about the use of mass email. Questions to consider:
- Why send a mass email?
- Are there other solutions that might work better?
- Who are the intended recipients of the email?
- Are there ways to narrow the audience pool to ensure that only those people who need to know are contacted?
Whether electronic or printed, newsletters offer an ideal medium for sharing information with a broader audience on a regular, scheduled basis. Items may include news, events, projects of importance or interest, accolades, policy changes or strategic updates.
Websites, MyUCMerced portal and social media
- Websites – Information and news can be posted to a department’s or division’s website after it has been delivered by another means (email, presentation or meeting).
- MyUCMerced portal – Users with a UCMNetID can access information, applications, services and information relevant to the UC Merced community. Users can place news, information and other resources on the portal to share internally.
- Social media – Fast and immediate way to disseminate non-critical information that can also engage employees and students. Each site owner should have a dedicated person who is responsible for monitoring social media sites for questions, comments and feedback.
Both social media and websites that feature news and events should be routinely updated so sites appear active and engaging.
Bulletin board (electronic or physical)
Use for routine news, upcoming events and as a secondary source for information initially conveyed by other means. Use on an ongoing basis.